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Striking Juhui staff look for new jobs

Between 700 and 800 workers from the Juhui Footwear factory in Kampong Cham province have given up on trying to get their jobs back and are looking for work at other factories, while hundreds of others are still waiting for a resolution, a union official said yesterday.

Buth Bunchhean, legal officer for the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said yesterday that for the workers, most of whom were fired from the factory for protesting, the battle is over.

“They could not wait anymore, that’s why they decided to find another job at another factory,” he explained.

Bunchhean said that there are about 300 workers who are still banking on a chance to come back to the company, but they have given up on protesting and are trying to negotiate with management at the factory via C.CAWDU.

“I really regret what happened to the workers.… They are not perpetrators, they are just workers and demand better work conditions for better living standards, but they lost everything,” Bunchhean said.

Months ago, C.CAWDU led a walkout of 5,000 workers at the footwear factory, but their demands were not met. Many returned to their jobs, and 2,000 or so were later fired. Clashes with authorities also occurred, and five arrested workers were recently let out on bail.

This group was the last of the holdouts.

Sorth Kunthea, a 22-year-old former worker, said yesterday that she’s looking for a new job at a new location.

“I do not want to spend my time waiting for a resolution for us because I need money to support my family, so I decided to walk out and find another job,” she said.

Another worker, Pheng Hong, 35, said he’s also job hunting, but employers seem reluctant to hire men since they believe they are more likely to protest.

“I found a few factories, but they said factory officials do not want male workers anymore, because most strikes are caused by male workers,” he said.

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